One Way to Reclaim Your Day.

By: Jen Shoop

I am generally allergic to “new year’s resolutions” in the traditional sense — I’ve never been able to adhere to them for a full year, and they therefore feel like half-mast objectives. I usually opt for words of intention instead. This year’s word is “flow,” meant in the sense of: feel what you feel; if it lasts, let it stay; if it goes, let it go. I suppose I am aiming for close proximity with my own emotions. (Why do I tamp certain ones down? Why do I talk myself out of my own feelings sometimes? Etc.)

But, I did have one small daily resolution that seemed easy enough to implement and has yielded surprisingly rich results:

This year, I will not eat lunch at my desk.

Mr. Magpie and I love a line from “The Office” in which Andy Bernard (played by Ed Helms) says: “I ordered a pizza and I ate it like a rat over the sink.” We use this phrase as shorthand for any time we barrel into a meal/snack without proper plating or seating — you know, when you come home from an afternoon out and eat a handful of something right out of the bag, standing in front of the fridge or cupboard. “I ate it like a rat over the sink,” we’ll say.

Too often, last year, I was “over-the-sink-ing” it by working through lunch, spooning bites of leftover fried rice over the keyboard, or dusting crumbs from a ham-and-swiss baguette off my notebook as I’d draft by hand. I always hated the experience. I never paid much attention to what I was eating, I ate too quickly, and it was generally unpleasant to manipulate a plate / crumbs / messy meal while typing with one hand. I always felt half-in, half-out. Besides — I’ve written elsewhere that Mr. Magpie takes his mealtimes seriously, and he was constantly begging me to dine with him at the dining room table for lunch.

This year, no matter what, I have been pausing from my work to sit down at the dining room table or at the kitchen counter (with our new stools!) to enjoy lunch. I cannot tell you how much this habit has done for my sense of pace during the day. Even though I am technically sitting at my desk twenty or thirty minutes less each day, I find I am arranging my work into clusters that book-end around the lunch slot, and I find myself therefore feeling much more accomplished. For example, in the past, I might barrel through 1.5 posts in the morning, take a quick break to throw lunch together, and then return to finish the second post. Now, I will either break early (after one post) or break late (after two posts) to enable myself to really pause in between for lunch. I don’t know why the formal “break” has led to this new arrangement of workflow, but it has, and I am so grateful for it. Now when I sit down to my desk after lunch, I am starting on a new page/task/post versus feeling like I’m halfway done for a longer period of time. Beyond that, do you know how magical its been to sit, sometimes in quiet, but more often in conversation with Mr. Magpie, in the middle of the day? It’s a lovely, diverting interlude that makes me feel closer in some mystical sense to the real things that matter in life. I hypothesize this is because I’ve brought my values into better alignment with my actions, and I feel as though I’m vibrating with intactness.

All of this —

From no longer eating lunch at my desk.

I’ve grown circumspect about the concept of “optimization” and I actively detest the notion of a “hack” but I’ll be damned if this small improvement in my life hasn’t unlocked something in me.

Have you made any small daily changes to your life recently that has led to a similar sense of calm and completeness?


+What do you eat when your fridge is bare? (Comments are a gold mine.)

+I love this couscous salad as a weekday lunch.

+If you’re feeling anxious about criticism — think of the howling wolves.

Shopping Break.

+This white puff-sleeved peplum top is such a great deal at Gap and a fabulous piece to dress up or down. Also comes in an Isabel-Marant-esque washed denim.

+Another option for your daughter on Valentine’s Day — under $20! — and how cute are these wide-leg pink jeans for littles as an alternative?

+Drawn to the emerald hue of this dress.

+OMG this midi skirt.

+Have been hearing really good things about this under-$20 eye palette from Lady Gaga’s cosmetics line, which I’d never heard of before. Check out the reviews!

+The quilted crew sweatshirt we didn’t know we always needed. Love the color options — and it’s only $30!

+Love the patterns on these punchy pillows.

+A PERFECT summer birthday / celebration dress.

+Writing this post reminded me of a book someone recently recommended called “What’s in the Way Is the Way” — apparently, really helpful in working through anxiety and stress. It’s been in my TBR pile for awhile though I’m not usually a big fan of this genre of book. It overwhelms or intimidates? Has anyone read?

+My daughter (who LOVES art) received a few Faber Castell kits for Christmas and has been enjoying them so much. This one and this one are particularly clever — I just bought those and bundled with some colored pencils for a little one’s birthday party! (More of my go-to gifts for children here.)

+Oh my GOODNESS — this tiny bathrobe is 50% off and would make the sweetest gift for a new cherub. Also note that some of HHH’s nap dresses are marked down, like this fantastic emerald trellis pattern and this fun sea-life print (under $60 and great for my Magpies heading out somewhere warm in the near future)!

+Cute hot pink top on sale for under $100.

+Ordering one of these $24 tanks to try.

+A Loewe hammock bag on sale!!!

+How sweet is this Liberty floral footie for a baby?

+These would be next-level for a Toy Story themed party…

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7 thoughts on “One Way to Reclaim Your Day.

  1. I opened this post to read at my desk during lunch… sandwich crumbs and all. #convicting! I’m trying to start a 5 min. mindfulness practice as a compromise to this habit.

    1. Ha!! Love the 5 minute mindfulness practice idea as a concrete step/change.

      Let me know if it changes anything for you —


  2. “It’s a lovely, diverting interlude that makes me feel closer in some mystical sense to the real things that matter in life.” – I love when I stumble upon simple things that give me this feeling! Biking my children to school and reading to them at night are two that come to mind for me 🙂

    1. I love the way you’ve framed this, and you are right: you always “stumble upon” them. Love the two you’ve shared here. I also feel that way when I take my children to walk Tilly in the mornings — it just feels like everything is as it should be. Outdoors with two curious little ones, soaking up our neighborhood. xx

    1. Hi Kristin and D! Our interior designer proposed these ones —

      But she had them custom upholstered (cleverly) in a Kravet performance material on the inside (seat and interior cushion) and a patterned material on the backside. They turned out SO fun. Eventually I will share photos of our house as we get it together but it is in a work in progress!

      I also really love these S&L stools —

      And these ones from smaller furniture brand House of Leon have such a rustic/warm/textured feel to them —


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